Source: Harper’s Weekly
Source type: magazine
Document type: letter to the editor
Document title: “Roosevelt and Pulitzer, 1901-1909”
Author(s): Cloak, S. D.
Date of publication: 13 February 1909
Volume number: 53
Issue number: 2721
|Cloak, S. D. “Roosevelt and Pulitzer, 1901-1909.” Harper’s Weekly 13 Feb. 1909 v53n2721: p. 6.|
|McKinley assassination (news coverage); Joseph Pulitzer; Theodore Roosevelt (assumption of presidency: personal response).|
|S. D. Cloak; Leon Czolgosz; Charles J. Guiteau; William McKinley; Joseph Pulitzer; Theodore Roosevelt.|
Roosevelt and Pulitzer, 1901-1909
, January, 1909.
To the Editor of Harper’s Weekly:
S .—There is a dramatic contrast between the treatment of Theodore Roosevelt by Joseph Pulitzer in 1901 and the treatment of Joseph Pulitzer by Theodore Roosevelt in 1909.
No sooner had news reached New York that President McKinley had been stricken by an assassin’s bullet than Mr. Pulitzer sent word to the World office that the name of Czolgosz must not be printed more than once, and that when reference to him was demanded by the news he should be called merely “the assassin.” His purpose, Mr. Pulitzer explained, was to prevent any attempt at mock-heroics over Czolgosz, to do what he could to prevent the popularizing of the name of the assassin, to prevent the surrounding of his miserable head with any halo of false glory; in brief, there was to be no second Guiteau.
William McKinley died, and Mr. Roosevelt was summoned from a hunting trip to succeed as President the man who had lingered for eight days on a bed of pain. Mr. Roosevelt had behind him two centuries and a half of American ancestry; Mr. Pulitzer was a naturalized citizen who had fought for his adopted country in what Mr. Roosevelt often has called “the big war.”
Mr. Pulitzer told his editors that Mr. Roosevelt was assuming the Chief Magistracy under conditions that would be trying to any man, and conditions especially trying to one of Mr. Roosevelt’s impulsive temperament. He is likely to make mistakes; any man would, continued Mr. Pulitzer; but do not criticise him until he has had every chance to get his bearings and settle down to the administration of his great office. Moreover, if Mr. Roosevelt should do anything worthy of praise, praise him, even going out of your way to do it.
Such was the consideration shown by the editor for the President and the Presidency in mid-September, 1901. Ten days later the World sent its Washington correspondent, who had been obeying the orders of his chief in letter and in spirit, to the White House to ask for some information. This is the reply that was made to him: “The President knows but two kinds of correspondents—those who are friendly and those who are unfriendly, and your name is No. 1 on the unfriendly list.”
The contrast between the views of the two men, as to the difficulties besetting a new President, is made the more interesting by the present course of the President toward the editor and his newspaper.
I am, sir,
S. D. C.